February 29, 2012
Living as an actor in LA you are faced with a lot of rejection and disappointment. “No” is a word you hear a lot more than “yes” and sometimes you feel like you should just give up. And if you have to work a job you hate in order to pay the bills it can really take its toll on you. I can say personally that for a while things really started to get to me. Roles I felt sure I had gotten fell through and I was so tired of going to my night job that I had to force myself to walk out the door every day with tears in my eyes. After a bit I decided that I needed to snap out of it. I opened my eyes to the world around me and started seeing the harsh realities other people were dealing with. As I drove to work every day, I would pass at least three people who were homeless. I started thinking about how their lives must be and that I was being pretty lame complaining about mine when I at least had somewhere to live, clean clothes, food…
I began thinking about how I could make others a little bit happier rather than wallowing in my own disappointments. That's when I began to bake cookies and deliver them to people who were living on the street. All I wanted to do was brighten their day but what I found is they usually were the ones brightening mine. Sometimes I would start out in the morning tired and stressed out. I’d be thinking about a role that I didn't book or the money I wish I had or the bigger apartment I wanted to move into or a list of other things I let get to me. After a couple smiling faces, however, it was hard to figure out why I made these things so important and why I was letting them make me so unhappy. The people I met didn't have food to wake up to and they didn't have a bed to fall asleep in at night but I brought them a bit of joy with a couple of cookies. It made me whining about not having enough money seem extremely petty.
By doing this small thing I was able to bring a little happiness into lives of others and I was able to completely change my outlook on life. It made me become a happier person and start truly appreciating what I have as opposed to focusing on the things that I want to have. It made me become a better woman.
Since my cookie days....which I still do, I have started volunteering officially with my church. Recently I helped take a group of underprivileged kids to the beach so they could have a fun day in the sun. Some of these kids never get the chance to even see the beach. I want to spend more of my time helping other people, I want to make their lives a little brighter and the great perk is; I get my life made a little brighter at the same time.
If you need more proof on the power of giving back, I came across a couple ladies online who have touching stories about how volunteering has changed their lives as well. Like Michelle who started volunteering after getting out of an abusive relationship and now credits it with increasing her confidence. Or Lisa who spent time volunteering with children in Honduras and now doesn't take for granted all of the luxuries she has in her life like transportation and clothing.
Ralph Waldo Emerson says it best, "It is one of the beautiful compensations in life, that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself." Giving back to the community with volunteering and outreach usually starts as the desire to help other people. You really want to make a difference in someone’s life or change the world into a better place. I believe that by volunteering you will do these things and more but the biggest change you will see is within yourself and not the people you are trying to help. Maybe it's time for you to start volunteering... It could change your life.
This article was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Love Yourself". Each day we released updates of videos, poetry, images, and original content, all based on the theme of loving yourself. Click the link to read more!